NPR : News

Filed Under:

Prescribe 'Morning After' Pill For Teens Before They Need It, Doctors Say

The nation's largest group of pediatricians is urging its members to write prescriptions in advance to enable teenagers to have fast access to the so-called morning-after birth control pill.

"Emergency contraception is an important backup method for all teenagers," says a policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Advanced provision increases the likelihood that teenagers will use emergency contraception when needed, reduces the time to use and does not decrease condom or other contraceptive use."

Such medications as Plan B and Next Choice work best when taken soon after unprotected intercourse. Last December, over the objections of its own Food and Drug Administration, the Obama administration declined to fully overturn a Bush Administration policy from 2006 that limited access to the drugs without a prescription for those under age 18. (In 2009 the age was lowered to 17.)

The new policy, which will be published in the December 2012 issue of the organization's journal, Pediatrics, urges practitioners to counsel both male and female teens about the use of emergency contraceptives "as part of routine anticipatory guidance in the context of a discussion on sexual safety and family planning regardless of current intentions for sexual behavior."

The new policy takes into account — and rejects — the idea that practitioners may have a moral objection to what could be seen as tacit approval of underage sex or use of a product some consider to cause very early abortion.

"Pediatricians have a duty to inform their patients about relevant, legally available treatment options to which they object and have a moral obligation to refer patients to other physicians who will provide and educate about those services," the policy says. "Failure to inform/educate about availability and access to emergency-contraception services violates this duty to their adolescent and young adult patients."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Anne Tyler: "A Spool Of Blue Thread" (Rebroadcast)

In her first live radio interview ever, Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler joins Diane to talk about her 20th novel, "A Spool of Blue Thread."


Fine Brine From Appalachia: The Fancy Mountain Salt That Chefs Prize

An artisanal salt producer is processing brine from ancient ocean deposits below West Virgina's mountains. The company, J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, ships to top chefs who value the salt's minerality.

Downed Russian Warplane Highlights Regional Divide On Syria

Hugh Pope, director of communications and outreach at the International Crisis Group in Brussels, explains the growing divide between Turkey and Russia on their priorities inside Syria.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.